Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur

Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur (September 18, 1888 – September 9, 1971) was a scholar of early English, German, and Old Norse literature at the University of California, Berkeley. He is known primarily for his scholarly work on Beowulf and his translation of Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda for The American-Scandinavian Foundation, but also as a writer of pulp fiction and for his left-wing politics.

Early life and education

Brodeur was born in Franklin, Massachusetts, to Clarence Arthur Brodeur, a private school teacher who served as Superintendent of Schools at Warren and Chicopee, and to Mary Cornelia (née Latta).[1][2] He earned Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctoral degrees at Harvard University in 1909, 1911, and 1916, with a dissertation on the topos of the grateful lion in medieval literature.[1][3]

Career and writings

While a student, Brodeur taught German and history in a boys' school and was a visiting lecturer at the University of Oregon.[4][5][6] However, the bulk of his career was spent at the University of California in Berkeley, where he started in 1916 as an instructor in English and Germanic philology, became a full professor in 1930, and remained until retiring in 1955.[1][7][8] He was chairman of the special committee on professionalizing the University of California Press in 1932.[9] After retiring from the University of California, he returned to the University of Oregon.[10] In 1959, he published The Art of Beowulf, which has been called "one of the books that any student of the poem must read."[1]

Brodeur was active in the establishment of the Department of Scandinavian Studies at the University of California, and served as its first chairman from 1946 until 1951.[1][11] He had already been translating Old Norse for the American-Scandinavian Society before completing his doctorate. His translation of the Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson appeared the same year as he was awarded the degree.[5][8] In 1944, he was declared a Knight 1st Class of the Royal Order of Vasa for his services to Scandinavian studies.[1][12][13]

In connection with his interest in ballads, Brodeur was active in folklore studies.[6][10][14]

Early in his career, Brodeur wrote and co-wrote fiction for the popular magazines Argosy and Adventure. Many stories focused on topics of Northern history and legend, such as Harald Hardrada's time in the Varangian Guard (the serialized novel He Rules Who Can, 1928) and Völsunga saga (the novella "Vengeance," 1925). With Farnham Bishop, he wrote adventure stories starring Lady Fulvia, and the novel The Altar of the Legion (1926).[1][15][16][17][18][19]

Brodeur was also known for his progressive politics. He was on the committee organizing fund-raising for Arthur J. Kraus' appeal against his dismissal by the City College of New York.[20] Gordon Griffiths wrote in his memoir that Brodeur, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Haakon Chevalier were the sole members of the Berkeley Communist faculty group in the early 1940s.[21] Brodeur was one of the University of California faculty who refused to sign the loyalty oath as required by the state in 1949,[22][23][24][25] although he ultimately did decide to sign and continue the fight from within.[1]

Selected works

  • (translation) The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson. Scandinavian Classics 5. New York: The American-Scandinavian Foundation, 1916. OCLC 974934
  • Arthur, Dux Bellorum. University of California publications in English, volume 3, no. 7. Berkeley: University of California, 1939. OCLC 420324
  • The Art of Beowulf. Berkeley: University of California, 1959. OCLC 248278
  • Brodeur, Arthur Gilchrist & Brady, Caroline (November 1940). "Sundrmœðri—Sammœðra". Scandinavian Studies and Notes. Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study. XVI (4): 133–137. JSTOR 40908177. closed access


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h W. E. Farnham and A. E. Hutson, Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur, English; German: Berkeley: 1888-1971: Professor of English and Germanic Philology, at Calisphere, University of California Libraries, retrieved February 22, 2012.
  2. ^ "Brodeur, Clarence Arthur," in Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, et al., Universities and Their Sons: History, Influence and Characteristics of American Universities, with Biographical Sketches and Portraits of Alumni and Recipients of Honorary Degrees, volume 3 Boston: Herndon, 1899, OCLC 706846, p. 130.
  3. ^ Harvard University, President's Office, Report on Harvard University 14 (1917) p. 92.
  4. ^ "To marry a Cambridge instructor," Boston Evening Transcript, August 28, 1912, p. 2.
  5. ^ a b American Scandinavian Review 1 (1913) 2.
  6. ^ a b David Stanley, Folklore in Utah: A History and Guide to Resources, Logan: Utah State University, 2004, ISBN 978-0-87421-588-5, p. 89.
  7. ^ University of California, Berkeley, Register, 1919–20, 1920, p. 20.
  8. ^ a b The American-Scandinavian Review 4 (1916) 197.
  9. ^ Albert Muto, The University of California Press: The Early Years, 1893–1953, Berkeley: University of California, 1993, ISBN 978-0-520-91227-4, p. 89.
  10. ^ a b Archer Taylor and Wayland D. Hand, "Twenty-Five Years of Folklore Study in the West," Western Folklore 25.4 (October 1966) 229–45: "A later phase in Oregon folklore studies came in the late 1950's when Arthur Brodeur assumed a teaching position at the University of Oregon."
  11. ^ Hal Johnson, "So We're Told: Scandinavian at University," Berkeley Daily Gazette, June 10, 1946, p. 8.
  12. ^ Intellect 60 (1944) 138.
  13. ^ Harvard Alumni Bulletin 47.6 (1944) p. 197.
  14. ^ Wayland D. Hand, "Folklorists in the Rocky Mountain West," The Folklore Historian 3 (1986) 4–6, p. 5.
  15. ^ Morgan, "A Howard Fan’s Journey to the 21st Century: Part 2: A Reprint of Interest," REHupa, The Robert E. Howard United Press Association, May 19, 2007.
  16. ^ "Doom of the Gods, The," Our Books, Black Dog Books, retrieved February 27, 2012.
  17. ^ "He Rules Who Can," Our Books, Black Dog Books, retrieved February 27, 2012.
  18. ^ "Book Review: The Big Book of Adventure Stories, edited by Otto Penzler," Archived July 8, 2012, at National Post, June 17, 2011: "The book's very first story, and one of the best ones here, is ... 'The Golden Snare,' by Farnham Bishop and Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur, a lush, spicy and action-packed tale of their series character, the heroic Lady Fulvia."
  19. ^ "Writers' Club to Hold May Dinner," Berkeley Daily Gazette, April 27, 1926: "Arthur J. Brodeur, of the English Department, University of California, and Farnham Bishop, co-authors of the recent successful novel, 'The Altar of the Legion,' and regular contributors to Adventure, and other rough-paper periodicals."
  20. ^ John Dewey, "Righting an Academic Wrong," letter to the editor, in Collected Works ed. Jo Ann Boydston, The Later Works: 1925–1953 Volume 11 1935–1937, Carbondale, Illinois: Southern Illinois University, 1987, ISBN 978-0-8093-1267-2, p. 530.
  21. ^ Kai Bird and Martin J Sherwin, American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, New York: Knopf, 2005, ISBN 978-0-375-41202-8, p. 140.
  22. ^ David Pierpont Gardner, The California Oath Controversy, Berkeley: University of California, 1967, OCLC 564284, p. 289, note 27.
  23. ^ "Group on UC Staff Fights Compromise: Professors Indicate Opposing Signing Papers Saying They're Not Reds," Los Angeles Times, April 23, 1950: "A group of professors at the University of California still showed 'fight' today against the idea of signing special papers that they are not Communists. ... Arthur G. Brodeur, chairman of the Department of Scandinavian Languages, told the meeting he could not 'in good conscience' sign ..."
  24. ^ "Loyalty Oath Row Flares Anew at UC: Publication of Names Forecasts Fireworks at Regents' Meeting," Los Angeles Times, August 24, 1950: "The University of California's bitter loyalty oath dispute flared anew today with publication of names of 25 prominent professors who have refused to sign the oath. ... Arthur G. Brodeur, Ph.D., 62 professor of English with 34 years service at UC ..."
  25. ^ Lawrence E. Davies, "California Court to Hear Oath Case; Meanwhile, Six of 31 Battling Non-Communist Statement at University Sign It," The New York Times, September 10, 1950: "The other recent signers of the statement were Dr. Arthur W. Brodeur ..."

Further reading

External links


In Greco-Roman mythology, Aeneas (; Greek: Αἰνείας, Aineías, possibly derived from Greek αἰνή meaning "praised") was a Trojan hero, the son of the prince Anchises and the goddess Aphrodite (Venus). His father was a first cousin of King Priam of Troy (both being grandsons of Ilus, founder of Troy), making Aeneas a second cousin to Priam's children (such as Hector and Paris). He is a character in Greek mythology and is mentioned in Homer's Iliad. Aeneas receives full treatment in Roman mythology, most extensively in Virgil's Aeneid, where he is cast as an ancestor of Romulus and Remus. He became the first true hero of Rome. Snorri Sturluson identifies him with the Norse Æsir Vidarr.

Battle on the Ice of Lake Vänern

The Battle on the Ice of Lake Vänern was a 6th-century battle recorded in the Norse sagas and referred to in the Old English epic Beowulf. It has been dated to c. 530.


Forseti (Old Norse "the presiding one," actually "president" in modern Icelandic and Faroese) is the god of justice and reconciliation in Norse mythology. He is generally identified with Fosite, a god of the Frisians. Jacob Grimm noted that if, as Adam of Bremen states, Fosite's sacred island was Heligoland, that would make him an ideal candidate for a deity known to both Frisians and Scandinavians, but that it is surprising he is never mentioned by Saxo Grammaticus.Grimm took Forseti, "praeses", to be the older form of the name, first postulating an unattested Old High German equivalent *forasizo (cf. modern German Vorsitzender "one who presides"). but later preferring a derivation from fors, a "whirling stream" or "cataract", connected to the spring and the god's veneration by seagoing peoples. It is plausible that Fosite is the older name and Forseti a folk etymology. According to the German philologist Hans Kuhn the Germanic form Fosite is linguistically identical to Greek Poseidon, hence the original name must have been introduced before the Proto-Germanic sound change, probably via Greek sailors purchasing amber. The Greek traveller Pytheas of Massalia, who describes the amber trade, is known to have visited the region around 325 BC.


In Norse mythology, Ginnungagap ("gaping abyss", "yawning void") is the primordial void, mentioned in the Gylfaginning, the Eddaic text recording Norse cosmogony.


The Kálfsvísa ("Kálfr's vísa", Kálfr being maybe the name of its author), sometimes mistakenly called Alsvinnsmál, is a poem partially preserved in Snorri Sturluson’s Skáldskaparmál.

Its three stanzas in fornyrðislag mostly consist of a þula of horses and their riders, Norse heroes (for instance Grani and Sigurðr). The Kálfsvísa also includes a narrative dealing with the Battle on the Ice of Lake Vänern between Áli and Aðils.

List of names of Thor

The Germanic god Thor (Old Norse: Þórr) is referred to by many names in Old Norse poetry and literature. Some of the names come from the Prose Edda list Nafnaþulur, and are not attested elsewhere, while other names are well attested throughout the sources of Norse mythology.

Menon (Trojan)

Menon (in Greek Mένων) was a Trojan soldier killed by Leonteus in the Trojan War as detailed by Homer in the Iliad (XII.201).

There is also a Trojan chieftain or king by the same name, mentioned by the twelfth-century Icelandic writer Snorri Sturluson in his prologue to the Prose Edda. Snorri states the chieftain's name as Múnón, yet also called Mennón. It is uncertain whether Snorri is referring to this Menon, the Trojan soldier, or to Memnon, or to someone else. According to Snorri, Múnón was one of the twelve chieftains who dwelt in Troy in the stronghold with the High King. Múnón was wedded to the daughter of the High King at that time, Priam. The daughter's name was Tróán. According to Snorri, Múnón and Tróán had a child named Trór, "whom," Snorri states, "we call Thor." Thus, in Snorri's euhemerized account of Norse mythology, Múnón is the father of Thor, who, according to Snorri, is the ancestor (eighteen generations later) of Odin.

Narfi and Nari

In Norse mythology, Narfi is a son of Loki, referred to in a number of sources. According to the Gylfaginning section of Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda, he was also called Nari and was killed by his brother Váli, who was transformed into a wolf; in a prose passage at the end of the Eddic poem "Lokasenna", Váli became a wolf and his brother Nari was killed.


Niflheim or Niflheimr ("World of Mist", literally "Home of Mist") is one of the Nine Worlds and is a location in Norse mythology which sometimes overlaps with the notions of Niflhel and Hel. The name Niflheimr only appears in two extant sources: Gylfaginning and the much-debated Hrafnagaldr Óðins.

Niflheim was primarily a realm of primordial ice and cold, with the frozen rivers of Élivágar and the well of Hvergelmir, from which come all the rivers.According to Gylfaginning, Niflheim was the second of the two primordial realms to emenate out of Ginnungagap, the other one being Muspelheim, the realm of fire. Between these two realms of cold and heat, creation began when its waters mixed with the heat of Muspelheim to form a "creating steam". Later, it became the abode of Hel, a goddess daughter of Loki, and the afterlife for her subjects, those who did not die a heroic or notable death.

Poetic diction

Poetic diction is the term used to refer to the linguistic style, the vocabulary,

and the metaphors used in the writing of poetry. In the Western tradition, all these elements were thought of as properly different in poetry and prose up to the time of the Romantic revolution, when William Wordsworth challenged the distinction in his Romantic manifesto, the Preface to the second (1800) edition of Lyrical Ballads (1798). Wordsworth proposed that a "language near to the language of men" was as appropriate for poetry as it was for prose. This idea was very influential, though more in theory than practice: a special "poetic" vocabulary and mode of metaphor persisted in 19th century poetry. It was deplored by the Modernist poets of the 20th century, who again proposed that there is no such thing as a "prosaic" word unsuitable for poetry.


In Norse mythology, Sigmund (old norse: Sigmundr) is a hero whose story is told in the Völsunga saga. He and his sister, Signý, are the children of Völsung and his wife Hljod. Sigmund is best known as the father of Sigurð the dragon-slayer, though Sigurð's tale has almost no connections to the Völsung cycle.


In Norse mythology, Singasteinn (Old Norse "singing stone" or "chanting stone") is an object that appears in the account of Loki and Heimdall's fight in the form of seals. The object is solely attested in the skaldic poem Húsdrápa. Some scholars have interpreted it as the location of the struggle, others as the object they were struggling over.


Skuld (the name possibly means "debt" or "future") is a Norn in Norse mythology. Along with Urðr (Old Norse "fate") and Verðandi (possibly "happening" or "present"), Skuld makes up a trio of Norns that are described as deciding the fates of people. Skuld appears in at least two poems as a Valkyrie.


The second part of Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda the Skáldskaparmál (Old Norse pronunciation: [ˈskaldskaparˌmɒːl], Icelandic pronunciation: ​[ˈskaultskaparˌmauːl], "language of poetry"; c. 50,000 words) is effectively a dialogue between Ægir, the Norse god of the sea, and Bragi, the god of poetry, in which both Norse mythology and discourse on the nature of poetry are intertwined. The origin of a number of kennings is given; then Bragi delivers a systematic list of kennings for various people, places and things. He then goes on to discuss poetic language in some detail, in particular heiti, the concept of poetical words which are non-periphrastic (like steed for horse), and again systematises these. This in a way forms an early form of poetic thesaurus.


In Norse mythology, Váli is a son of the god Odin and the giantess Rindr. Váli has numerous brothers including Thor, Baldr, and Víðarr. He was birthed for the sole purpose of avenging Baldr, and does this by killing Höðr, who was an unwitting participant, and binding Loki with the entrails of his son Narfi. He grew to full adulthood within one day of his birth, and slew Höðr before going on to bind Loki. Váli is prophesied to survive Ragnarök.

Váli is often incorrectly referred to as the son of Loki, though this is most likely an early transcription error. This misconception is based on a single passage containing the phrase "Then were taken Loki's sons, Váli and Nari" in Gylfaginning, which also describes Váli as the son of Odin in two instances All other historical documents found at this time ascribe Váli only the role of Odin's son, with the exception of transcripts based on the original misattribution.

Váli (son of Loki)

In some versions of Norse mythology, Váli was one of the unlucky sons of Loki. He is mentioned in the Gylfaginning section of Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda, chapter 50. After the death of Baldr, the Æsir chase down and capture Loki; in this version it is an unnamed god rather than Váli, son of Odin, who binds Loki with his son's entrails:

Váli, son of Loki, is otherwise unknown. A variant version in the Hauksbók manuscript of stanza 34 of "Völuspá" refers to this event; it begins: "Þá kná Vála | vígbǫnd snúa", usually amended to the nominative Váli in order to provide a subject for the verb; in Ursula Dronke's translation in her edition of the poem, "Then did Váli | slaughter bonds twist". This presumably refers to Váli, son of Óðinn, who was begotten to avenge Baldr's death, and thus it is not unlikely that he bound Loki; but the Hauksbók stanza interrupts the flow of "Völuspá" at this point and presumably draws on a variant oral tradition. It is likely that this was Snorri's source, and that he interpreted the manuscript text Vála vígbǫnd as "bonds from Váli's act of slaughter", thus inventing a second Váli. In the rather cryptic prose at the end of "Lokasenna", which appears to be derived from Snorri's account, Narfi transforms into a wolf and his brother Nari's guts are used to bind their father.

Völuspá hin skamma

Völuspá hin skamma, Völuspá the Less or the Short Völuspá, is an Old Norse poem which survives as a handful of stanzas in Hyndluljóð, in the Poetic Edda, and as one stanza in the Gylfaginning section of Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda. The name of the poem is only known due to Snorri's citation of it in Gylfaginning (chapter 5):

The additional stanzas that remain appear in Hyndluljóð. In his translation of Hyndluljóð, Henry Adams Bellows comments that the preserved fragment of Völuspá hin skamma shows that it was a "late and very inferior imitation of the great Voluspo", and he dates it to the twelfth century. He further suggests that its appearance in Hyndluljóð is due to the blunder of a copyist who confused the two poems, and he does not consider them to be of any great value either as poetry or as mythology.


Weohstan, Wēohstān or Wīhstān (Proto-Norse *Wīhastainaz, meaning "sacred stone", Old Norse Vésteinn and Wǣstēn) is a legendary character who appears in the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf and scholars have pointed out that he also appears to be present in the Norse Kálfsvísa.In both Beowulf and Kálfsvísa, Weohstan (Vésteinn) fought for his king Onela (Áli) against Eadgils (Aðils).

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.